A journalist with Voice of Democracy (VOD) who was badly beaten by security forces at the site of a planned demonstration in the capital earlier this month left for Thailand yesterday for an operation, and plans to file suit against his attackers next week, he said.
VOD reporter Lay Samean, 27, was one of several people – including a female journalist and a photographer – attacked by unprovoked Daun Penh district security guards who had begun targeting and accosting observers and members of the press as they waited for an opposition rally near Freedom Park on May 2.
Samean was badly beaten on the head, and said yesterday that he was suffering from persistent symptoms and a problem with a molar stemming from the attack.
“I can walk normally, but my head seems like it’s nodding; I feel dizzy,” Samean said before leaving for Thailand.
Kaing Tong Ngy, a communications officer with the Cambodian Center for Independent Media, which is helping Samean with his complaint, called on those responsible to be held accountable.
“We’re suing in order to have those who committed [the beating] take responsibility before the law,” Tong Ngy said. “Whether the court rules for [us in] this case or not, we will find other ways to find justice for [Samean].”
Tong Ngy did not say what charges would be filed, or against whom, and said CCIM was still consulting with legal experts. He also maintained that Samean was displaying his proper press credentials at the time of the attack.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said yesterday that citizens had the right to file complaints, and that authorities had the right to enforce the law.
“It is his right,” Dimanche said. “We are the officials who enforce the law. If people are not happy they must file [a complaint] to the court like this.”
Dimanche did not specify which law the untrained Daun Penh security guards were enforcing.
Cambodia’s Press Law makes no mention of a ban on taking photos of public employees in public spaces, and just days after the beatings, the Ministry of Information condemned the attacks as “a serious violation of press freedom”.